SCREED: a long discourse or essay, especially a diatribe.


What readers haven’t  found themselves dozing off during a long, boring presentation, whether it be in school, at a business meeting, or even a committee meeting of a favorite charity?  The feeling of the heavy eyelids, and the inability to mask your boredom, until finally you may just give in and wander off into the […]

PERORATION [per-uh-REY-shuh n]: a long speech characterized by lofty and often pompous language.

Every time I hear one of President Roosevelt’s speeches I am struck by the fact that he does little if anything to disguise his elite background.  His speech is that of a man who has had a superb education, was schooled in eloquence, and has a vocabulary of a scholar.  He thinks nothing of dropping […]

OTIOSE [OH-shee-ohs]: unneeded, not useful

“I’ve never heard the word before.”   If you just said that, welcome to the crowd.  Admittedly, even the experts say that it is obscure and irrelevant.  Bryan Garner, one of the linguistic experts I consult, says: “You might say the word itself is otiose.” That’s a pretty shallow  commendation  for the word, which, Garner […]

ETIOLATE [EE-tee-uh-leyt] : to cause to become weakened or sickly; drain of color or vigor.

Yes, those are carrots in the photo to the right.   They are white carrots, which, I discovered, is the original color of carrots.  The article I read about them indicated that the Dutch wanted to create a vegetable that carried the color orange found in their flag, so they played with the genes of the […]

GAFFE: a public statement the speaker wishes had been ignored

It seems to be happening more in this election season than I can remember from previous ones.  Almost every day there is a report of a gaffe on the part of a candidate.   Some late-night entertainers have even started a daily spot of the “Gaffe of the Day.” It might seem as if it happens […]

HUSTINGS: a political campaign

It is most unlikely that you have heard the term hustings before, but it is actually a very useful term to add to your vocabulary, especially in this election year.  It is an old English term which literally refers to the place where a potential Member of Parliament stands to make a political speech.    The […]